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  • Patrick Johnson

17: To the Woman Outside the Dollar Store

we watched you sit out there

propped against the ice cooler

dressed in thin blue scrubs

folder of discharge papers

cradled against your chest

a wide plastic bracelet

with all your information

hanging slack on thin wrists

mask moving as you constantly

talked about or to

the people and not people

that walked by


I asked the tired looking cashier

what was your story

while a line of people stood behind

wondering the same thing

as she handed me change and

a worn down defeated look

"the police have already been here"

as if that was that


we didn't leave for a long while

as she sat huddled in fear

and talked with one of us

about the things she was seeing

and the things that were done to her


I wonder

if her family

can save her

from whatever

has her


I'm sorry we couldn't

do enough

to stop her

from becoming

a wounded shadow




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